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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 10, 2011 7:15pm-8:30pm EDT

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backyard and it is for everything. >> host: second book? >> guest: yes. >> host: professor at university of virginia and author of common sense has joined us here on booktv.
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>> it is a pleasure to be here and also to be talking to an audience on c-span through the camera's. i will tell you about the new book of mine by showing the pictures. it is not music on the music stand but notes for me. i think that writing a book is a matter of following an obsession and why your of assessed by something. for me, but all my life had an obsession with a period of the first world war as long as i can remember. it has fascinated me as they grow older and reading history i realize there are good reasons for being fascinated it left 20 million dead, military
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and civilian and more than six times the casualty toll of any previous war europe had ever known and it left a larger number of wounded soldiers behind and large parts of europe in smoldering ruins the way armies have retreated on both sides and when one is drawn to a subject matter how much there is something personal as well. fought in the first world war fad is hymns there in the center of the picture with his fighter squadron of
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the imperial russian air service if you read my first book half the way hollywood have met him in those pages that cross around his neck is across of the order of state george mitchell is the highest declaration the russian empire and entitle the bearer to a private audience with this are at any time which is any time after 1970. [laughter] there is another reason to study and learn about it 1914 marked an era of that came to an end of embers and empresses there was none after the war ended it was
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the sixth signs marching in a parade that yet somehow to me the arrow it is symbolized by that hats that they war. just look at that hats. here is the kaiser's wife, the empress and her daughter and i can claim nobody wore hats like that was certainly the world has created such hats with the war of 1918. another thing about this more, like many wars that is so hunting the first solution was it would be over quickly and easily. these are berlin students marching off to enlist 1914
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and here are german soldiers climbing into the railway car and if you look closely what is written on the car is a to paris. here are french troops marching off with enthusiasm getting into trains and written on the side is to berlin and here are russian troops celebrating in anticipation of the easy victory. of course, those early and easy victories did not come. there is a second solution about the war which the best way i can express it is the illusion you can go to war and the enemy would not be shooting at you. how can you explain the fact that literally millions of
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french troops went into battle dressed like this? think of what targets that made for sharpshooters and they died by the hundreds of thousands as a result of that. and not the only eight soldiers dressed that way. the hungary calgary was also fined of bright red and blue and then into two years into the war but another allusion was like the calgary itself could play a role of the calgary the british brought all the way from india, the
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famous lancers from germany -- maybe i could get a glass or a bottle of water? when the germans invaded france 1914, then they did so with eight calvary divisions prepare you could just imagine how little chance and then with the age of modern weaponry. everybody practiced for the great cavalry charges and they anticipated what is white knights in armor with a jousting competition.
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the idea of war was very close to the day's close aligned to images of sport like this. the first correspondent of the london daily mail was the sport center. of course, when they tried to do the mass of charges they come up against barbwire not to mention the machine good. -- machine again. and as a result of those two weapons of the british writer and a machine gun, the western front where most of the bloodshed took place was essentially frozen in place along that line with more than three years. and barely more than a few miles in each direction. in the entire year 1915
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where the allies launched -- launched massive assaults probably altogether 1 million casualties on the western front fumble sides the allies gained eight square miles but instead of the glorious calgary charges they found themselves fighting in aid devastating landscape with a 700 million artillery shells and mortar rounds landed in france and belgium over the four and a half years of the war and left the way of looking like this. they found themselves living below ground in trenches and sharing space with corpses and rats. they found themselves very often need deep in mud. they found themselves facing
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all kinds with horrifying new weapons like the flame thrower for example. when one side and then sit weapon in the other side very quickly copies it. the same thing with poison gas. experiencing for the first time using it against the russians with the germans and then the following year and their word offenses hastily constructed and strange looking gas masks and then hundreds of thousands of people were injured by gas and somewhere blinded like the british soldiers in this particular photo. the enormous numbers of soldiers wounded in other
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ways as well. all you have to do is just imagine one of the soldiers then multiplied that by 21 million which is the number of soldiers who were wounded in the war. of the tremendous toll of the war of dead and wounded coming give us a profoundly darker and more cynical view of the world that in many ways has stuck with us ever since. this cartoon appeared during the war and this attitude of a greater services -- cynicism of human nature in general i think continued ever since then. there is another thing about this war that was very different from the wars for example, we were engaged in today. visas and were officer
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cadets that had been at the most private school in 1915. one of the things about the war's we have got accustomed to with vietnam, iraq, afghanistan is they are fraught mostly and there are very few among fed dead and wounded who were sensa and daughters of ceos, senators, members of congress or anything like that. it was the exact opposite and avert -- first world war the death toll fell proportionally higher on the upper class. the main reason for that was it was customary four sons of the upper class and aristocracy to have military careers. one major reason for this is
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that armies are not only there to fight wars against other countries but to maintain order at home. the 19th century was a tumultuous time in europe so was yearly 20th century and european armies were used to break strikes with the british army put down rebellions in ireland and so therefore the officer was generally reserved for those of the upper class is meeting when the country's went to war in 1914 come in the upper class is suffer the enormous toll. for example,, for the 30 graduates of the 10 killed in a single day, the first day of the battle in 1916 come the men who graduated from oxford in 1913, 31 percent were killed by the end of the war.
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a few specific examples, have field house, one of the great british palatial estates between queen elizabeth the first spend to her childhood on the estate. the patriarch of the family, lowered assaults very was prime minister of england for some years at the turn-of-the-century and had 10 grandson's, five of them were killed in the war and one of them, george, is a character in the book. a tremendous toll among the political and military leaders, prime minister of england lost a son. so did his counterpart counterpart, chancellor of germany. the man in the middle of this picture, sir herbert
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lawrence who is chief of staff on the western front lost two sons and his counterpart lost three sons. so part of what i wanted to explore in the book is the mentality of how could these generals and prime ministers year after year send in their own sense into battle and their own sons charging out of tranches into the face of machine-gun fire. and into a hail of fire that lasted week after week and month after month and year after year for 4.5 years? that was something i wanted to explore. the very insanity of the war may be equally interested in
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another type of person. those people that existed on both sides with all of the warring countries of to recognize from the beginning that the war was madness and not worth fighting, people like eugene, the great american socialist leader, spoke loudly and repeatedly against the war was sent to prison by the woodrow wilson administration and while still in prison, long after the war ended received nearly 1 million votes for president on the socialist ticket. another american in dissenter was the social worker pioneer jane addams and and not also went to prison for her opposition to the war. more than 500 american conscientious objectors were jailed like these two men at ft. riley arkansas. in germany, the great
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radical went for her opinions and in france, a staunch opponent of the war that she saw coming and spoke out repeatedly was the socialist leader who was assassinated by a right-wing nationalists three days before the war began. in england, the leading philosopher, bertrand quote russell was to my mind the most eloquent of all war opponents and but what i like about russell so much is he was so honest about the conflict of his own feelings. let me read something where he describes his state of mind as the war began. he describes himself very poignantly as being "tortured by patriotism" i desire the defeat of germany as ardently as any retired colonel.
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with the strongest emotion i possess and appearing to set it aside of such a moment, i was making a difficult annunciation. but as a lover of truth, the national propaganda of all belligerent nations sickened me as a lover of civilization and the return to barbarism appalled me. from parental feeling the massacre of the young wrung my heart broke he spent six months in prison for his opinions. someone else who also led to jail was britain's greatest investigative journalist if you have read king leopold's goes to will remember him as the man who exposed the brutalities of the king leopold congo and his term was extremely harsh and he died not long after words really as a result. a very brave man.
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war opponents like this were up against the unceasing verizon of propaganda. here is the u.s. army recruiting poster from the period, a typical of things you saw on both sides. a german poster, with god 14 and fatherland. a poster warning against for heaven's sake say potential german invasion of australia. some of the probe for propaganda has an edge to it. you would be letting down the when and if you did not fight. or perhaps you were all blimp evading your responsibility and worse yet if you refuse to fight maybe you were a feminist.
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there was a nasty edge to the patriotic fervor in the air. as i mentioned, there were more resistors in all the countries we were fighting, but for various reasons the sharpest conflict between those who thought the war was noble and necessary, and those who thought it was absolute madness took place in england. more than 20,000 men of military age refuse to go into the british army. some of them excepted service, alternative service as conscientious objectors which meant you could drive an ambulance to the front or work in this industry like were working in the cory in scotland but as a matter of principle refuse to alternative services as well
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and sent to prison. more than 6,000 young englishmen went to prison during the war. the largest number of people up to the point* in time ever imprisoned for political reasons, they serve the sentences in places like here coming southwest london, that metal netting stretching across the opening is to prevent people from committing suicide. and prison conditions were extremely harsh. prisoners lived under the rule of silence rerun not allowed to talk to our fellow prisoners. they found ways around a buy tapping and whispering but to live under those conditions was tough. the diet was terrible, shortage comment it was cold and many people died in prison.
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i was fascinated by the stories. for the longest time i could not figure out how from a story telling point* of view i would get the resistors and the generals into the same book. i did not want to do a series of portraits of one then the other but then a clue came to me one day when i wis reading a scholarly article about a well-known pacifist. she was the ardent opponent of the war, wrote the single best selling piece of anti-war literature and traveled up and down the country, visiting conscientious objectors and the families and speaking out again and again some rallies were shut down by the police.
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she was also involved in many other radical causes of the day, a strong supporter of independence for ireland, india, before the war she was very active in the women's suffrage movement and has gone to prison four times. in this article, the writer made one passing comment, one sentence where she said naturally these activities were deeply upsetting to her brother and i gave his name. sir john french which i immediately recognized as commander in chief on the western front. i thought that will be a relationship that will be interesting to write about. it was. because the brother and sister of diametrically opposite views were nonetheless were personally quite close. she was eight years older and she was the beloved
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little brother and taught him the alphabet. they remained in touch throughout the war and saw each other frequently. they stopped speaking to each other only win in 1918 the british government sent him to ireland to be viceroy in charge of suppressing the nationalist revolt against english role. she went to ireland to work for the i.r.a. and stopped speaking at that point*. that gave me the idea talking about the war to portray this conflict for those who believe in it and those who didn't to look at divided families. there are echoes of their own time because the vietnam era, it was something that divided many families in this country. i went looking for other divided families and i found some.
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one was a family that i am sure some of you know, , the famous and curse family of the british suffrage movement. emilie pankhurst, and the mother shown under our press here, prior to the war. and her two daughters, were leaders of the most militant wing of the suffrage movement. she was arrested for literally throwing a rock through the window of 10 downing street and at the time the first shots were fired she was a fugitive from british justice living overseas the moment the war began, she sees all political activity came back to england to put herself that the service of the british government which dispatcher on speaking tours wrote england and the united states and in fact, early
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1917 s and heard to russia to rally their russian women. meanwhile heard daughter sylvia who worked very closely with the mother became an ardent opponent of the war and published the leading anti-were periodical and britain zero the conflict. several issues were suppressed by the government. and was a very strong voice for peace and ending the conflict. she was having a secret love affair with the founder of the independent labour party, and our predecessor of today's labor party and also an extremely strong opponent of the war who was crushed when it began and died as much of grief over an ad as anything else 1915.
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another divided family i followed was the top house family emilie hothouse was the outspoken and pacifist who did something quite remarkable. 1916 she traveled without government permission or proper passport or visa from britain and through france and switzerland two germany and went to see the foreign minister to talk about peace stearns and asked him what what may be the terms of peace went back to england and saw people in the british government and tried to suggest peace terms to them. it was an impossible lone wolf mission of diplomacy that failed.
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but over the course of four and a half years, the worst conflict the world had seen with 20 million dead, she was the only person in europe literally traveling from one side to the other in search of peace. she had great influence on a young cousin of hers, stephen hophouse he refused the draft and thrown into solitary confinement because he was leading a protest against the rule of silence her. he said and said i will speak to my fellow human beings whether prisoners or guards whenever i feel like nobody can stop me and threw him into solitary purpose he has three brothers in uniform, two were at the front one was later killed but before he was coming he sent a message back to the
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parents telling them tell steven not to lose heart. the very interesting relationship. just to make things more complicated, a very close friend of the family who had actually acted as godfather at stephens baptism, the minister of war there are various other characters in the book as well as some of them are people you know, such as the rug -- the richard kiplinger who was a tremendous drumbeater for this war as he was for every war that britain was engaged in. he cultivated a love of things military he was four years old and the picture in with his father's encouragement said his sights early on a military
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career to have great trouble getting into the navy then the army and then rejected he had his father's bad eyesight. deal is as these very thick glasses. finally his father pulled strings went to a field marshal and got him a commission as an army officer. 1915 he went into action and was never seen again. his father was completely devastated. some of the other characters in the book are people who are less familiar. one of them was a man who was the editor of the socialist newspaper before the war and went to prison as a resister and in prison continued to be a newspaper editor putting out a
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clandestine newspaper on to a paper and it was published twice a week for a year until the authorities discovered and punished him by putting on restricted diet and solitary confinement. incidentally some copies of these papers survived. another character in the book one of my favorites is a man john s. clark who was born into a circus family and group in the circus when he was 17 years old, he went into the ring as the youngest lion tamer and great britain. subsequently coming he was involved with radical politics when the war broke out he was tipped off by a friendly police man he was about to be arrested and went underground and throughout the war was the editor and writer for the socialist anti-war newspaper
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the authorities kept trying to suppress but could not find where it was published. after the war, he came back above ground and was the labor party member of parliament. spent many years on the city council and when the circus came to town, he went back into the ring and it was the oldest lion tamer and great britain. [laughter] the war that people protested against was unprecedented suffering and left huge cities destroyed in a way that europe had never known before and these were the ruins of the 15th century cathedral in bill jump. there were so many killed that by the end of the war england was drafting 17 year-old's and germany was taking soldiers into the army who were still younger.
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still the carnage went on and on four and a half years. by the time it was finally over, there were more than 9 million military dead, and the estimated 12 and 13 million civilian dead. of course, the war not only less cars from this but because of the way it ended and the terms of the peace treaty that followed, it sent the course -- set the course of future events that the men on the far right in this picture the men played a crucial role and 20 years later would lead into a more destructive war and the holocaust to. my hope and 19 this book is
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when we think back on the first world war we will remember not just the politicians. not just the generals but some of those who tried to stop the bloodshed even though they were in vain including some of the people in this book. i will end by playing use of music and let me explain when it comes from. it is a song that some of you may come, the green fields of france composed by the scottish songwriter who was inspired to write it when he visited one of the vast military graveyards and their hundreds upon hundreds spread across the area of
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the old western front in northern france and belgium and noticed the name of the irish soldier. and the song is addressed to him a song by a john mcdermott. while the song is playing, i will show you some old vintage newsreel footage from the first world war. but i want you to listen to the words of the song. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> added is if you have comments or questions i will be glad to hear them. [applause] >> aside from the is articulate and a brave and well-connected individuals individuals, it is also for
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large parties that claimed they would reject this then the international solidarity of other working people. were they quickly swept away or did they require a lot of suppression? >> all of the left-wing parties were divided. really britain, germany, and other countries had real divisions in the socialist party is. in britain in the bulk of the independent labour party which is the most important stuck with the leader with his stand against a the war and many other members of the coalition went to the government side. and germany the social democratic party there which
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was buy far the largest and most powerful socialist party in europe, had something like 30 or 35% of the vote in germany and other institutions, they divided and there were a small number of the 120 or 30 deputies who voted against extending work credits that kaiser had asked for on the eve of the war. the tragedy that one feels looking at this period is i think all of these people initially before the war have the right idea is thinking it was much more important to feel solidarity with your fellow human beings on the left who were struggling for great social changes then to have a legion to the nation's state
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but the powerful drive that people seem to have within them, we all have somewhere within the us prove to be more powerful. amazing ways there is a demonstration against the coming war of 100,000 people in berlin, four days before the first shots were fired. after coming even in the german peace society issued a statement in favor of the war as did a huge number of intellectuals and even those on the left who signed a pro war statement. the only way to explain it is adolor of tribalism is a very, very powerful thing. it is still very much with us.
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we were glad to see the end of osama bin laden but it made me creepy to see those people in front of the white house shutting u.s.a.. . .
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>> several things come to mind. one was the -- [inaudible] writing about the persistence of the regime and it kind of resinates with you and resinates with others who argue that the aristocrats who rule the roost all the way until 1914. fair enough, all that is fine, but against all of that, i would say one has to situate the mass participation of people in the fourth world war for the triumph of nationalism and the nationalist center. that's one thing. the other thing is the very triumph of nationalism may be positioned against the failure or the frustration of international socialism which is the other ut ultimatum in the
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early early -- late 19th century and early 20th century. another reason why one would argue is the production of the 1917 russian revolution did not really succeed in its internationalist form, and the revolution was always international revolution that they had the surge and that they did not triumph was in large reason because there was no support from us and the rest of europe for democratic parties and others who actually opted for the war, the strength of nationalism, nationalism more than tribalism or anything else. >> well, certainly the story of the first world war and of so many other wars before and sense is one of the triumph of nationalism over reason, over humid solidarity, and over much else. you're right to mention the
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russian revolution which in many ways was a direct result of the world war. by the time of the revolution, russia suffered some 6 million casualties, dead, wounded, and missing. by 1917, it's estimated that more than a million russian soldiers simply left the front and walked home which is what we would wish people to do in our wars at all times i think. the russian revolution even though i think fairly quickly went awry in some horrible ways nonetheless when it happened in 1917, it was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by the anti-war leftists in the other countries, and it's very moving to read the accounts, for example, of these british war resisters who were in prison as they got the news from russia -- they all were convinced and
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hopeful this was the beginning and would be a revolution that would spread to other countries, but it did not, and the world went on. i want to bring the -- you got the microphone, okay. i'll go with whoever has the microphone. >> i'll be brief and i regret i didn't hear everything you said. considering all the libraries with books on the first world war that now exist plus access to so many documents that we did not have access to at the time of the war right after, do you -- with the lens of historical hindsight, do you think that the war was inevitable, or could it have somehow been prevented? the inevability thesis is -- in other words, i'm asking you if in the end they were right that the war was the logical cull -- cull --
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culmination and how it was and the pictures you showed us and the whole generation swept away and the cemetery in belgium and so on, and one nourishes the hope that such a thing could be prevented, but i just wanted to know your take on that. >> it's a good question. i actually think the war was not inevitable. you know, this is one of these things that historians argue over end leslie, of course,. i think it was inevitable because, true, there were some tensions in europe. there was a naval arms race between britain and germany, refresh her for example, but we had 40 #-50 years of an arms race between united states and russia without the two countries going to war. as of mid-june 1914, there were no outstanding boundary disputes
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in europe. no country claimed part of another easter story. there was some rivalry, but we have a lot of imperial rivalry in the world now between the united states and china and all sorts of other ways it appears as well. there was imperial river ri in africa, but the european countries divided up africa among themselves years previously. once the war began, then, of course, only imperial rivalries came to the surface, and in africa, you know, britain and france on one side and germany on the other were nakeddedly fighting to -- nakedly fighting to seek control knowing to the victor would go the spoils. despite tensions in the air, i do not think the war was inevitable.
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>> you didn't talk very much -- you didn't talk more than a little bit about american anti-war resistance on the left? i know that. i know the american left was split, there's some less radical, and if russia dropped out of the war as soon as the russian revolutions succeeded that i know that some people like karl sandberg, for example, redired from the third party because it would support the war, but people on the left felt we should be -- [inaudible] some people thought we had been under attack, at least, in fact, germany sank some boats, and some people didn't believe in some justification, i think, that it was a war against the monarchy, at least the european monarchy. will you speak something about american anti-warrism? the feeling about left wing americans about the war?
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>> you know, i don't know as much about the war movement in america as i should because in this book i focused entirely on england. i just wanted to tell the story within one country because it was there with the most anti-war movement, but there were many americans like the ones i mentioned that felt the same way as these folks in england like debs goldman and many others and there were many on the left and you mentioned carle sandberg leaving the party because he felt it was a war against democracy and believed woodrow wilson when he said we're fighting for democracy. the anti-war folks whom i sympathize with more said it was mockery to say this is war against democracy when britain, france, and united states were alive with russia, and russia up until the february revolution was the last absolute monarchy
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in europe. i think that brings out how countries on -- whether -- when they go to war always claim to be fighting for the most nobel of ideals and never say they fight for their economic self-interest. they only claim noble ideas and it behooves all of us who live in a time of war as we do right now to question that rhetoric very, very closely. >> you mentioned two phenomena that seemed to be closely related. i don't know how. one is tribalism, and i'd like you to explain what you mean, and the other is, you know, amnesia, you didn't mention it, but this is the war to end all wars as were all the others, and that part of the power and the shock of these images is that they aren't part of our history
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even though they are, they are not part of children's history books or the history books in high school. how does, you know, what is tribalism and how does it combine with repression of war to create an appetite for more? >> good question, and i'm not sure i know the answer to it. i just know that it is a very, very powerful force in history. the tendency to want to identify with the group that you can feel a part of and one sees it again and again. i think there is something of tribalism in the fanatical way that people sometimes root for sports teams. we are looking for something to identify with that says that's us, that's me, i'm part of this
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group. >> [inaudible] >> but why do we not feel it as much when we're identifying with larger numbers of people feel with when identifying with a peaceful movement or something like that, i don't know the answer to it, and it's something i've puzzled over a long time, and i think until we can figure out the answer to that, we're not going to get very far, and you know, i do think that there are -- i'm interested by developments that seem to begin to supersede tribalism in some areas. now, i think, you know, for many people on the left, the european union has a bad name because, you know, it represents the rich countries of the world and rich countries of europe who are agenting in their --
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acting in their own interest in bad trade terms on foreign countries and so forth. nonetheless, i think people can't help but feel something when they go to europe and able to cross borders without customs, see people have passports that are the same only the name of the country is in smaller letters, that's a start towards something, but i'm still waiting for the world's passport, and we're not there yet. [laughter] >> ads m, thanks for your presentation. i wonder if you can touch more, the slides touched on it, but whether one is kind of the birth of the public relations industry? a lot has been made of the shift between world war ii to the vietnam war here at home in terms of how americans soldiers have to be hammered into their heads that killing was not necessarily wrong, especially killing of unarmed enemy
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soldiers, but, of course, looking at world war i, this really is the birth of all of that, and i wonder if you can touch upon what which is now a multibillion dollar industry. >> i'm glad you asked that. this is a big subject in the book. one of the things that interested me very deeply was that in addition to being the first war to have destructiveness at this level, the first world war was the first propaganda war. why? because up to that point in time in europe in the proceeding several decades, all the wars had been fairly small war colonial conflicts where small volunteer armies went out and put down rebellions in africa or asia or whatever. it didn't require a propaganda effort. you know, certain writers like roger kipling could be counted
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on to supply the proper kind of poetry and story telling when needed to be, but there wasn't anything organized by the government, but right from the beginning, they seemed to realize that this war was going to require a massive propaganda effort. this was especially true in england, and it was another reason that led me to concentrate on england in the book because along the major powers of europe, they did not have conscription. they still had an all-volunteer army, so whipping up the necessary enthusiasm, they had to whip up enthusiasm in order to get millions of men to enlist, and, in fact, they did goat two and a half million men to enlist before they imposed conscription. how did they do it? they began very early where a cap innocent men -- cabinet minister six weeks into
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the war assembleed -- to begin with, assembled more than 50 of the country's leading writers, very familiar names, james berry, ht wells, many other people, all the prominent british writers with rare exceptions, in a meeting in a commercial office, an insurance company office in london saying we want you to write for the war effort. whatever you write, we'll see that it's published, and for the next four-plus years, there was a huge mirage of fiction, nonfiction, pamphlets, books, magazines, almost all coming from commercial publishers, but, in fact, the british government agreed in advance to buy 50,000 copies of this and 100,000 copies of that. they produced posters some of
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which i showed you. they produced postcards. they produced a german atrocities calendar with a different atrocity for every month of the year. [laughter] it was a huge operation. they sent people on lecture tours, and they set up front organizations of all kinds, every -- part of this propaganda operation in england was geared at the united states because they were very eager to have the united states come in on the allied side which eventually the u.s. did in mid-1917, but up until that point in time, there was a lot of propaganda directed towards the united states. every catholic priest in america, for example, received a regular letter from a patriotic association of catholic priests in britain that was all set up and orchestrated by the government. all kinds of things of that sort. in fact, they even pioneered
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what today we would call astroturf, a fake citizens' organization that's set up to, you know, further somebody else's purpose. for example, although most of the labor movement did end up supporting the government war effort, people in the government were still disstressed that there was a significant percentage of union members, hard to say how many -- 15%-20% maybe -- who really did not think well of the war, didn't rush to enlist. suddenly, mysteriously in 1916, there appeared an organization called the british national workers league which began organizing rallies all over the country. they organized 100 rallies in the course of a year. they published a very handsome
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looking weekly news magazine. they were hailed by the "london times" as the authentic voice of the working class. they declared themselves vaguely in favor of better wages and benefits, but most important we have to win the war first, and it was all engineered behind the scenes by the guy whose picture i showed you at one point, al fred milner who was a figure who lined up the financing for that organization, set up a secret bank account, got waldorf aster of the aster family to manage it, had a newspaper, and it was a magnificent job of astroturfing. they pioneered all these things that we are very familiar with today. i should add one more thing that they pioneered, of course,
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versions of it went on earlier. one of my best sources for material about the anti-war disdense i was writing about was the government surveillance reports because the british government watched these people like hawks. they infiltrated people into their organizations. they sometimes sent this provocateurs to get them to do things they could be arrested for. any time there was just a small anti-war meeting, trfs a scott -- there was a scott land yard writer writing down everything said and transcribing it, and all the material is in the national archives, some just becoming available in the last decade or so, and as somebody who finally under the u.s. freedom of information act managed to get my own fbi file, i found it fascinating how scottland yard watched it at this time. >> [inaudible] >> what -- got away from the
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mic. >> two questions. the first was why was barbed wire such an important innovation? second, when they dragged the bodies, i guess that was not shown contemporaneously, but later; right? >> the answer about barbed wire actually was invented by an american cattle farmer in the late 1800s. it was a tremendously important innovation because it's really the greatest defensive weapon of all time. you string a big tangle of barbed wire, and it takes people, you know, hours to cut their way through. it was virtually impregnable to any kind of explosive device because the explosive passed through it and the wire was still there, made charges impossible, and led to the development of the tank which was the only thing that could go
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over the wire. the foot taj of the body -- footage of the bodies being buried i would be positive it was not shown at the time. i think you're right. i don't know that for certain because the place where i got this filmed footage from has very sketchy sourcing, and one doesn't know exactly where the footage is from, and you have to be careful any time you look at documentaries using old footage. some of it is staged because the british government and the german government went to great lengths to make propaganda films that allegedly showed combat, and they are a mixture of real footage, and i think all of what i showed you was real, and then sometimes in these scenes you see things which are obviously staged where there are men charging over the top of a trench, and there's a bag piper
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strolling back and forth who obviously would have been shot down if it had been the real thing. >> in terms of the current situation, one of the lessons of vietnam political leadership in this country was that the draft was a great obstacle to the independence of the political leadership to wage war when it chose to do so. as a result of this, we do not have draft, the draft really -- once the draft was extended in vietnam and encouraging others in america to say, no, no, we won't go, and it brought the war to a quicker conclusion. in the current situation, post-1974 when we eliminated the draft from this country, we now have given greater independence to the political leadership, democrat or republican, to pursue in a more limited sense,
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not in the mass warceps, but in a more limited sense to pursue wars without a draft which really has made littled war more possible with a tool of american policy free from political pressures against, and in a certain way we moved beyond your notion of war's the great voluntary enthusiasm of 1914, and we've arrived at a more limited and more refineed method where we run one or two small wars, and most of us don't know, don't care because our own children don't go and will not be effected whereas now your argument is when all the children were effected in 1914, they still let it go on, however, we don't face that same problem. we've been purr fied a bit. >> i think you're right, and you said it elegantly.
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the draft helped the anti-war movement into being here, and i think it was a major thing that led to the u.s. withdrawal. the biggest thing of all was the resistance of the vietnamese, but certainly the anti-war movement here was a big part of it. mcgeorge bundy at one point in 1968, i think he left the government at that point, said we have to find a way out of this because the price at home is too high, and that was because was anti-war movement. now we no longer have the draft. i fear we also have something else which is that the government has, you know, believed that it can wage war in these very high-tech ways with drones and so on where there's no american soldiers at risk, and that also, i think, is something that even if we still had the draft might slow an an
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anti-war movement from coming into being, but how to bring that anti-war movement into being this these changed circumstances is the big question facing us which we have not solved in any way. >> adam, at the beginning of your talk, you mentioned the illusions that helped create the war, but you didn't mention the title of your book which i think is probably the greatest illusion. can you say a little bit about why you called the book that and what the thinking was behind that notion? >> well, the phrase, the war to end all wars, is attributed to woodrow wilson. the reason he never uttered those words, but nevertheless that was the thought he put before the american people because he'd been elected to office on 1916 on the platform of keeping the united states out of war, but then the following year the u.s. did go to war, and, you know, because the war was so large and so terrible,
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people had to be told, you know, this was going to be the last one. this was going to be the war to end all wars, and, of course, it wasn't, and particularly the way the war came to an end and the way the peace settlement was made, al fred milner, a bad guy in my book, was smart enough to see as were many in the european elite at that time that the peace settlement and the erroneous terms it put on italy as he put it was the peace to end ul peace, and indeed, that's what it turned out to be. >> yes, i was wondering all this planning for the war, the propaganda and all that, but if there's as estimate of how many people -- in the room -- how many people made the decision to go to war versus everyone else? how many deciders were there? >> that's a difficult question
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because, of course, there were different deciders in different countries, and his tore yaps have spent a lot of time studying those six weeks between the assassinations at seriatim vow and outbreak of war. i think there was key people, and i think if kyser ii and the emperor of austria, hungary, i think the war might have been averted. the way things were set audiotape at that time, there were two things that made this downward slide into immense conflict inevitable once it began. one was a system of rival alliances where there's countries committed to come to each other's aid if one country was drawn into the conflict. france and russia, germmy and autre ya were alied.
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in 1914, all of these countries had fairly small standing army, but enormous armies of reservists, you know, people who had been trained, but had to be mobilized, and it took several weeks to fully mobilize your army, get all the reserrists out of the -- reservists off their farms and factories and reunit them to the front. if you start mobilizing your army before the other guy, you had an advantage. similarly, if you could attack first, that meant that the war would be on the other nation easter story, -- territory, and that's what germany and austria, hungary did, and these were things that sort of accelerated that spread, but if we could rewrite history at will so that things could unfold in the way i said a moment ago that i, you know, i think the war was not
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inevitable, i would have, you know, changed the actions of kyser and austria, hungary, and i think then the war might not have happened. not that there wouldn't have been other wars in europe later on, but i don't think it would have happened in quite the same way. a few more people have questions, but i'm wondering whether we ought to -- one last question, and then i'll be glad to keep on talking with people who want to stay a little while afterwards. >> you're a very nice guy. i like you a lot. [laughter] >> but? >> but, i think you're wrong in two senses. >> uh-huh. >> one is the sense in which nationalism was a very strong sport in the late 19th century, and without it, the failure of socialist internationalca


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